Shaoang Liu of Hungary was crowned overall champion at the Dordrecht 2021 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships on Sunday – with a huge helping hand from his brother, Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN).
The Liu siblings put on a tactical masterclass to help 22-year-old Shaoang seize overall gold, and 25-year-old Shaolin Sandor the silver.
(L-R) Shaoang Liu (HUN) and Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) celebrate in the 1000m final 2021 ©International Skating Union (ISU)
Shaoang, who won the 500m on Saturday, started the day on the same number of points as Canadian veteran Charles Hamelin.
But in the semi-final of the 1000m, Shaolin helped to eliminate Hamelin. A superb overtaking manoeuvre on the outside unsettled the Canadian, who was forced wide and didn’t qualify for the final.
Then, in the final, Shaolin blocked Shaoang’s next-closest opponent for the overall crown, Semen Elistratov (RSU) – before taking the lead and winning gold in the distance himself. Shaoang won silver in the 1000m and Italian phenomenon Pietro Sighel the bronze.
The 3000m Superfinal was all-important for the overall standings – and things got complicated. France’s Sebastian Lepape lapped the field twice to win the race, but Shaolin also lapped the field once with Itzhak de Laat (NED), who finished second.
When the race concluded – with Shaolin third and Shaoang sixth – neither brother seemed to know who had just become World Champion. Shaolin seemed genuinely worried that he’d stolen the limelight.
Men's 5000m Relay final 2021 ©International Skating Union (ISU)
It wasn’t the case. After the maths was done, Shaoang was declared overall winner, with 60 points. Shaolin Sandor had silver with 55, and Elistratov bronze with 44.
“There are no tactics, it’s just brother love,” said Shaoang. “It really works like that.
“When we crossed the line we were both speechless, the only thing we could do was just scream. It might look weird or super crazy, but it feels super good.”
Shaolin added: “You can see that when we are on the ice together, no one can beat us. We always look out for each other. It’s simple. You always know your brother is there. Crossing the line, I’m always looking to find him because I want to hug him.
“It’s a good feeling when you win, but when you win with your brother that’s different. The Dordrecht rink has gave us some good memories. It gave me a first European overall title and now Shaoang took the first overall World title.”
Team Netherlands: Men's 5000m Relay medal ceremony 2021 ©International Skating Union (ISU)
Shaolin Sandor’s 1000m triumph was his second World Championship gold, following his 500m victory in 2016. Shaoang, meanwhile, becomes just the second European since Wilf O’Reilly (GBR) in 1991 to lift the title (Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands won in 2015).
Ultimately, teamwork had won the day in this usually most individual of sports: the Lius are unique in the world of skating. While national teammates sometimes help each other out, none work as a genuine unit like the Lius.
The Netherlands won the men’s 5000m relay, meanwhile, with De Laat and Knegt making up for a disappointing weekend in the individual distances by getting gold.
Where to Watch
Viewers will be able to watch the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships either via their national broadcaster / channel and for countries where there are no broadcasters, the ISU will offer a live stream on the Skating ISU YouTube Channel.
All the information is available in the Where to Watch. For further information regarding the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, including the announcement and entry list please visit the dedicated ISU Event Page and listen to The Ice Skating Podcast.
Subscribe to the ISU Newsletter to receive the latest information from the ISU and you can also subscribe to the Skating ISU YouTube Channel to receive notifications when live streams or new videos are published.
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